10 books like The Very Best Men

By Evan Thomas,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Very Best Men. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Ghost Wars

By Steve Coll,

Book cover of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

Taking the story from the endgame of the Cold War to the dawn of the War on Terror is this extraordinary book on the rise of Islamist terrorism and the CIA’s efforts to defeat it prior to 9/11. Coll’s research, based on interviews with a vast range of senior officials, is dazzling, yet it never overwhelms a narrative that combines human interest and geopolitical sweep seamlessly. No less impressive is his accomplishment in documenting not just the U.S. and Afghan perspectives but the Saudi and Pakistani as well, all in the same painstaking detail. If this whets the appetite for more of the same, Coll’s Directorate S resumes his account of the intelligence wars in Afghanistan, providing necessary background to understanding the failure of the U.S. occupation there.

Ghost Wars

By Steve Coll,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ghost Wars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize

The explosive, New York Times bestselling first-hand account of America's secret history in Afghanistan

Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll has spent years reporting from the Middle East, accessed previously classified government files and interviewed senior US officials and foreign spymasters. Here he gives the full inside story of the CIA's covert funding of an Islamic jihad against Soviet forces in Afghanistan, explores how this sowed the seeds of bn Laden's rise, traces how he built his global network and brings to life the dramatic battles within the US government over national security. Above all, he…


Cold Warrior

By Tom Mangold,

Book cover of Cold Warrior: James Jesus Angleton - The CIA's Master Spy Hunter

The history of the CIA features many fascinating personalities and there are several excellent spy biographies, Thomas Powers on Richard Helms, for example, or Randall Woods on William Colby. But the most complex and compelling of all figures in the Agency’s past must surely be the legendary head of counterintelligence, James Angleton. Again, there are numerous works on Angleton and his obsessive hunt for a top-level Soviet agent in the CIA, but I enjoyed and benefited most from Tom Mangold’s Cold Warrior, an astonishingly detailed and penetrating portrayal of America’s real-life George Smiley.

Cold Warrior

By Tom Mangold,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Cold Warrior as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


A Question of Standing

By Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones,

Book cover of A Question of Standing: The History of the CIA

There are several general histories of the CIA to choose from (including my own Great Courses video lectures) but this for my money is the best book available right now. Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones has been writing about the Agency for years, he’s scholarly yet highly readable, and he plots just the right course between recognizing the CIA’s successes and critiquing its errors. This book is concise but comprehensive, tracing the organization’s origins in the decades before its founding in 1947, and coming all the way down to 2022. A great place to start.

A Question of Standing

By Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Question of Standing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Question of Standing deals with recognizable events that have shaped the history of the first 75 years of the CIA. Unsparing in its accounts of dirty tricks and their consequences, it values the agency's intelligence and analysis work to offer balanced judgements that avoid both celebration and condemnation of the CIA.

The mission of the CIA, derived from U-1 in World War I more than from World War II's OSS, has always been intelligence. Seventy-five years ago, in the year of its creation, the National Security Act gave the agency, uniquely in world history up to that point, a…

The Cultural Cold War

By Frances Stonor Saunders,

Book cover of The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters

This book, about the CIA’s secret funding of art and culture in the Cold War battle for hearts and minds, caused a big stir on its publication in 2000. Written by a young British researcher, it scathingly criticized the Agency’s cultural operations (a source of some pride among intelligence veterans), arguing that they compromised and undermined the very artistic values they were supposed to defend. Several writers on the same subject since, myself included, have argued with aspects of her work, but Saunders’ research and storytelling are second to none. A harsh but hugely informative and entertaining account of one of the most intriguing chapters in the history of the Cold War.

The Cultural Cold War

By Frances Stonor Saunders,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cultural Cold War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During the Cold War, freedom of expression was vaunted as liberal democracy's most cherished possession-but such freedom was put in service of a hidden agenda. In The Cultural Cold War, Frances Stonor Saunders reveals the extraordinary efforts of a secret campaign in which some of the most vocal exponents of intellectual freedom in the West were working for or subsidized by the CIA-whether they knew it or not.


Called "the most comprehensive account yet of the [CIA's] activities between 1947 and 1967" by the New York Times, the book presents shocking evidence of the CIA's undercover program of cultural interventions…


Memorial Day

By Vince Flynn,

Book cover of Memorial Day

My personal favorite of Vince Flynn’s action-packed Mitch Rapp series, this sees the CIA counter-terror agent foil a plot by al-Qaeda to detonate a stolen nuclear device in Washington D.C. Flynn knows how to write a rattling yarn, and the pace is frenetic, moving like a freight train towards its explosive climax – exactly how an action thriller should be.

Memorial Day

By Vince Flynn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Memorial Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


American Assassin

By Vince Flynn,

Book cover of American Assassin

Vince Flynn has a unique ability of highlighting his main character in such a realistic way that the character is facing you and waiting for your next question.  His description of action-oriented scenes leaves no doubt as to the severity and authenticity of what is happening to hold you glued to the pages. I'm left with great anticipation for his next book using the same main character. My goal is consistent with Vince Flynn's.

I've been told that my characters "jump off the page and slap you in the face."

American Assassin

By Vince Flynn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Assassin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a major motion picture starring Dylan O'Brien (Maze Runner), Taylor Kitsch (True Detective) and Michael Keaton.

Tensions in the Middle East are simmering when Central Intelligence Agency Director Irene Kennedy pays a visit to Syracuse University, where she hopes to recruit none other than Mitch Rapp, a student who has quickly climbed up the academic and athletic ranks. At first glance, he appears like any other smart, good-looking American college kid. Under the surface, however, a tempest rages.

Nine months later, after gruelling training, Mitch finds himself in Istanbul on his first assignment. He hits his target but quickly…

See No Evil

By Robert Baer,

Book cover of See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism

Top CIA case officer Robert Baer takes us on missions with him to destroy terrorist networks in the Middle East. For most of the book he operates fast and furious—until he runs into a different kind of enemy—CIA political correctness, careerism, and more. His book strikes home the importance of spies with boots on the ground and how technical gizmos and doodads can’t replace that. Suspenseful and spooky, this memoir will haunt the reader long after turning the last page. 

See No Evil

By Robert Baer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked See No Evil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

See No Evil is the astonishing and controversial memoir from one of the CIA's top field officers of the past quarter century. Robert Baer recounts his career as a ground soldier in the CIA's war on terrorism, running agents in the back alleys of the Middle East, with blistering honesty. He paints a chilling picture of how terrorism works on the inside and provides compelling evidence about how Washington sabotaged the CIA's efforts to root out the world's deadliest terrorists. See No Evil is an unprecedented examination of the roots of modern terrorism and the CIA's failure to acknowledge and…


Circle of Treason

By Sandra Grimes, Jeanne Vertefeuille,

Book cover of Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed

Sandy Grimes and Jeanne Verterfeuille were part of the CIA team that identified Aldrich Ames, perhaps the most damaging spy in the agency’s history. Not only is the book a riveting account of the detective work that went into Ames’ arrest, it provides a wealth of information about the valuable agents and operations that he betrayed, and the incalculable damage he caused, including the loss of GRU General Dmitriy Polyakov, the highest-ranking spy run by the U.S. during the Cold War.

Circle of Treason

By Sandra Grimes, Jeanne Vertefeuille,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Circle of Treason as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

While there have been other books about Aldrich Ames, Circle of Treason is the first account written by CIA agents who were key members of the CIA team that conducted the intense "Ames Mole Hunt." Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille were two of the five principals of the CIA team tasked with hunting one of their own and were directly responsible for identifying Ames as the mole, leading to his arrest and conviction.

One of the most destructive traitors in American history, CIA officer Aldrich Ames provided information to the Soviet Union that contributed to the deaths of at least…


Live to See Tomorrow

By Iris Johansen,

Book cover of Live to See Tomorrow: A Novel

Catherine Ling, the main character, is a CIA operative. Her strength and smarts enabled her to survive the streets of Hong Kong as a child until she was brought into the CIA at age fourteen. On top of having a woman as the main character who is tough and skilled—which I love—Iris Johansen weaves an exciting story of how Catherine must rescue an imprisoned woman journalist in Tibet. Two strong and brave women, exotic locations, and suspense that won’t quit…do I need to say more?

Live to See Tomorrow

By Iris Johansen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Live to See Tomorrow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Company

By Robert Littell,

Book cover of The Company: A Novel of the CIA

As I mentioned before, I am a history buff. This book traces the cold war and the CIA through the lives of three wonderful characters. A loyal agent, a Russian spy, and a mole in American intelligence are all done in a way that puts you in their shoes from the Cold War’s start through the demise of the Soviet Union. Littell keeps you on the edge of your seat while teaching you what actually happened. A must-read for spy aficionados.

The Company

By Robert Littell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Company as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling spy novel The Company lays bare the history and inner workings of the CIA. This critically acclaimed blockbuster from internationally renowned novelist Robert Littell seamlessly weaves together history and fiction to create a multigenerational, wickedly nostalgic saga of the CIA-known as "the Company" to insiders. Racing across a landscape spanning the legendary Berlin Base of the '50s, the Soviet invasion of Hungary, the Bay of Pigs, Afghanistan, and the Gorbachev putsch, The Company tells the thrilling story of agents imprisoned in double lives, fighting an amoral, elusive, formidable enemy-and each other-in an internecine battle within…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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